An American Explorer Claims He Just Found Pirate Captain William Kidd’s Treasure off Madagascar

by Owen James Burke

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Captain William Kidd burying his (other) treasure, which some say inspired Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, and has since become the subject of intrigue for many a landlubbing explorer and archaeologist. Painting by Howard Pyle (1853-1911).

Renowned American explorer Barry Clifford just pulled a 110-pound (50kg) silver bar from a shipwreck off Madagascar, andhe b that it belonged to Scottish pirate Captain William Kidd Forsyth.

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A 110-pound silver bar Photo: Malagasy Presidency

Barry Clifford, a famed explorer who is also credited with locating Pirate Sam Bellamy’s Whydah Gally off Cape Cod, Massachusetts in 1984, and who claims to have found Christopher Columbus’ Santa Maria last year, was diving with a team off the southwest coast of Madagascar when they found the bar on a shipwreck off Saint Marie Island.

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Image: BBC

The silver bar, inscribed with the letters T and S, which, for reasons unclear, are said to tie the piece back to 17th century Bolivia, a place frequented by Kidd and crew.

Clifford and his team are confident that more silver lies with the wreck site, believed to be the remains of Kidd’s Adventure Galley (aka “Terror of the Seas“) which was loaded with silk, gold and jewels plundered from the British East India trading company before it was abandoned in 1698.

The first bar, which had been guarded by soldiers, was presented to Madagascan president Hery Rajaonarimampianina in a ceremony on Thursday.

“It is a huge find for my team but an even bigger find for Madagascar and world history,” Clifford said in a press release. Though he and his team don’t get to keep their treasure, the promise of finding more is enough to continue the search, a 15-year-long endeavor thus far.

Now back to the pirate William Kidd.

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Image: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Born in 1645, William Kidd was a Scottish Captain who made a name for himself privateering against the French in the West Indies. Impressed by his bravery, the Royal Crown appointed him to chase down pirates, but quickly turned to a life of looting himself.

In 1698, Kidd attempted to overtake an Armenian ship which, to his great misfortune, happened to be captained by an Englishman. Kidd was captured and tried for the murder of one of his crew (and perhaps piracy), before being hanged.

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Image: Terre Celtiche

Still, executing the insubordinate captain proved to be easier said than done, as is often the case when it comes to disengaging a pirate’s future (see Edward Teach, aka “Blackbeard”, who was so full of rum that not even an array of musket balls, daggers and cutlasses could bring him down). Legend has it that when Kidd was strung up on the gallows pole, that not one but two of the ropes lashed around his neck gave way and broke before the third held. His remains were then dipped in tar and put on exhibition along the Thames, in hopes of dissuading other would-be pirates. A glamorous end to a life in the golden age of piracy.

Read more at the BBC. -OJB

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